Malaysiakini has managed to raise over RM500,000 within the span of roughly four hours to pay for the fine imposed by the Federal Court for contempt earlier this morning.
The fine was handed down at 11.05am, with the donation drive beginning at around 11.44am.
By 4.26pm, Malaysiakini had managed to raise approximately RM505,000. The fundraising was then closed at 4.31pm.
On Malaysiakini’s website, its donation tracker recorded RM544,524 at the time of writing after the campaign was ended.
Among the biggest contributions came from DAP, with 50 of its MPs, senators, and assemblymen each donating RM1,000 and the party itself donating RM10,000.
PKR also donated RM20,000.
MPs from other political parties were also said to have donated, but the lion’s share of the funds came from members of the public, who donated between RM20 and RM1,000 per person.
On social media, supporters and readers had posted screenshots of their online transactions into Malaysiakini’s bank account to show their solidarity.
Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief Steven Gan, who was found not guilty in contempt of court in the same case, expressed his disappointment on the Federal Court’s decision today for the “chilling effect” it would have on freedom of expression in Malaysia.
“We were very disappointed with the decision. The decision flies in the face of the fast-changing new media landscape in this country, will have tremendous chilling effect on discussions of issues of public interest and it delivers a body blow to our campaign, our continual campaign to fight corruption among others,” he told reporters when met at the lobby of the Palace of Justice.
Gan said the approach to be taken should be to educate Malaysians instead of “punish” media organisations like Malaysiakini for comments made by readers.
“I think the decision that was made against us and the hefty fine that has been put against us. It’s really, really an attempt to perhaps not just punish us but also to shut us down.
“I’m terribly disappointed with what had happened, and I think what crimes has Malaysiakini committed that are so horrendous that we have been forced to pay a hefty fine of half a million ringgit. When there are individuals who are being charged with money-laundering and abuse of power involving millions of ringgit, if not billions of ringgit, walk free. It is definitely unfair,” he said.
“It has a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Malaysia,” Gan later said of today’s decision by the Federal Court.
On the next course of action that Malaysiakini will take, Gan said: “We will be asking all of our supporters to help us, so there will be a donation campaign to help support us to raise the money that we need to pay for the fine.”
Following the Federal Court decision including the RM500,000 fine, Malaysiakini’s news website is now in grey mode.
On June 17, 2020, the Federal Court allowed the attorney general to start contempt of court proceedings against Malaysiakini’s operator Mkini Dot Com Sdn Bhd and Malaysiakini’s “Ketua Editor.”
The five comments were posted under a June 9 news report titled “CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1”, with Malaysiakini having previously said that it was alerted at 12.45pm on June 12 about these comments when police contacted them to notify about investigations regarding these comments.
In court documents, Malaysiakini previously said it was not aware of the five offensive comments previously as no readers had reported these comments and as the comments did not carry any of the “suspected words” that Malaysiakini’s filter could detect, further noting that the editorial team had immediately reviewed the comments upon being alerted by the police and removed the comments at 12.57pm the same day. – MMO